The list of leading figures at the meeting is noteworthy. Longtime Roosevelt confidant Harry Hopkins was not present, having temporarily fallen from favor; neither was Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who was generally excluded from such conferences. On 12 September, the president met with a close friend, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. A plan for the administration of Germany drafted for Morgenthau by his assistant, Harry Dexter White, became a topic of discussion at the conference and a source of continuing study and controversy.
The Morgenthau Plan declared that Germany should be rendered an agrarian, pastoral economy and society following the war. All heavy industry would be stripped from the country. Secretary of War Henry Stimson strongly opposed the approach, as did Hull. A memorandum from the former to the latter, which was passed on to the White House, argued strongly that the Morgenthau approach lacked economic sense and promised political difficulties. Rich coal and ore deposits in the Saar and Ruhr regions of Germany pointed to an industrial economy. Since the 1870s, Europe had depended on these resources as well as the economic production of German firms and workers. Apart from these considerations, the argument was made that trying to keep Germans limited to a "subsistence level" was unwise and wrong as well as impractical.
Roosevelt initially pretended that he knew nothing of the Morgenthau Plan; then he raised objections. On 20 October, he sent a memorandum to Hull questioning the idea of "making detailed plans for a country we do not yet occupy," and after that he let the initiative wither. Churchill initially supported the Morgenthau approach. Informed speculation concluded that the British leader doubtless was mindful of the importance of American economic assistance after the war and wanted the support of the U.S. secretary of the treasury on the matter. In any case, Churchill knew the War Department in Washington ultimately would veto the Morgenthau Plan if necessary. The Quebec Conference also revealed Roosevelt to be in failing health, which in turn fueled speculation about his capacity to continue to lead the war effort. Arthur I. Cyr
Calvocoressi, Peter, and Guy Wint. Total War: The Story of World War II. New York: Pantheon/Random House, 1972.; Kimball, Warren F. Forged in War: Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Second World War. New York: William Morrow, 1997.; Loewenheim, Francis L., Harold D. Langley, and Manfred Jonas, eds. Roosevelt and Churchill: Their Secret Wartime Correspondence. New York: Saturday Review Press/E. P. Dutton, 1975.; Sainsbury, Keith. Churchill and Roosevelt at War: The War They Fought and the Peace They Hoped to Make. New York: New York University Press, 1994.; Woolner, David B., ed. The Second Quebec Conference Revisited: Canada, Great Britain, and the United States in 1944–1945. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Arthur I. Cyr